Hallam Tower student plunge tragedy: owners urge 'urban explorers' to consider safety

Thomas Rhodes, who was found dead at the old Hallam Tower hotel site

Thomas Rhodes, who was found dead at the old Hallam Tower hotel site

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The owners of an abandoned hotel in Sheffield where a teen tragically fell to his death have pleaded with 'urban explorers' to stay away for their own safety.

Thomas Rhodes, aged 19, was found dead at the old Hallam Tower hotel site in Broomhill on Sunday (March 26).

The building has been abandoned since the hotel closed in 2004

The building has been abandoned since the hotel closed in 2004

The circumstances surrounding his death are not yet known, and police are still appealing for information, but the 11-storey tower in Manchester Road has become a magnet for so-called urban explorers.

The dangerous craze involves people entering derelict buildings and other man-made landmarks, often after breaking their way in, with many posting photos, videos and other details of their exploits online.

Blenheim Group, which bought the site in 2015, said urban explorers had been trespassing there on an almost daily basis, despite the company's best efforts to secure the property.

Bosses at the firm told how security officers had visited the tower on a daily basis to secure the site and had once inadvertently locked a couple of young intruders inside before being alerted by their frantic screams.

Fans greet Pele as the Brazil football star arrives at Hallam Tower hotel during its heyday in the 1970s

Fans greet Pele as the Brazil football star arrives at Hallam Tower hotel during its heyday in the 1970s

They criticised bloggers for glamourising the pursuit, pointing out that abandoned sites like their pose great perils and should not be treated as playgrounds.

In a statement issued to The Star, the company said: "As the owners of Hallam Towers, we are deeply shocked and saddened by the recent tragedy of Thomas Rhodes' death. As parents ourselves, our hearts go out to his family and friends at this sad time.

"Since buying Hallam Towers late in 2015, it has been an ongoing battle to secure the perimeters and the tower. No matter what measures we put in place daily, trespassers always seem to be determined to enter.

"We have been working closely with the council to ensure that our efforts meet their requirements. However, internally the building is extremely dangerous and should not be entered by anyone.

"The likes of urban explorers posting their videos making Hallam Towers and other similar buildings around the city look cool to explore does not help.

"Recently we have been trying to get the police to intervene as some of these blogs openly name the person posting and glorifying their exploits. The police were unwilling to help.

"We urge anyone who might still think this is a cool site to enter to consider the dangers they face."

Star readers have paid tribute to Thomas, with many pointing out the dangers of urban exploring.

One reader described the hotel site as an 'accident waiting to happen', while another urged young people thinking it was 'cool' to mess about in abandoned buildings to think again.

Sheffield Council said it had recently responded to reports of people accessing the hotel site and had liaised with the owners, arranging for them to re-secure the property.

Where it was aware of trespassers entering derelict buildings the council said it alerted the owners and made them aware of their responsibilities to prevent unauthorised access.

If owners were unable or unwilling to undertake the necessary work, it said the council could take reasonable action to re-secure the building.

Fellow students have paid tribute to Thomas, describing the University of Sheffield student as a 'genuine person' who 'didn't have a bad word to say about anybody'.

One friend told the student website Shef News she had visited the derelict hotel several times with him and he 'loved' going there.

The hotel was once one of the city's most exclusive addresses, famously welcoming Brazilian football legend Pele as a guest, but it closed in 2004 and is now in a sorry state.

It is one of many sites across Sheffield which have proved popular with urban explorers, from dilapidated former factories to abandoned swimming baths.

Thomas was found dead at the hotel site on Sunday at around 4.15pm. A post-mortem revealed he died as the result of multiple injuries consistent with a fall.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting the incident number 713 of March 26.

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